Live :: Optimistically :: Through :: Universal :: Struggles
Within the last few months, America and the world has witnessed too much heartache and tragedy. From innocent people who died while “shaking it off” in a nightclub to multiple shootings between people of different skin colors to the ongoing heated debates between Trump and Hillary. No matter what happens in the world, there always seems to be a debate. Debates are inevitable, everyone is allowed to have their own opinions. What would are world be if everyone thought the same. On a much lighter note...the newest social media debate involves the new pop culture phenomenon – Pokemon Go.
Pokemon Go is a FREE app that is based off of 90's cartoon Pokemon. The developers of this app combined the storyline of the popular TV show and an interactive game. Players use their GPS on their mobile devices to find, catch and battle their Pokemons. I personally have not downloaded the app myself, however, I have seen what a tremendously positive effect it has had on so many of my clients. From elementary kids, to ornery teens to closet geeky adults, this app has made a positive impression on so many of their lives.
Like with everything in life, there is always a flipside to things. Below I have listed a few pros and cons on this app and how it has impacted some of my client’s lives.
1 - You need to get out to play (Behavioral activation – getting out and doing something is a common homework that I give to my clients. I am amazed at how this app has motivated some of my socially anxious clients to go out in public, meet people and socialize!) Caveat :: I typically request that my clients put their phone away during sessions, but recently, my clients have been showing me their pokemons, the cool names they are renaming them or their character’s CP (Don’t quote me on this, but I think the CP indicates how powerful that pokemon is). The more you use it the more powerful it gets!! Hmm, doesn’t that play perfectly into the importance of using positive thinking, communicating effectively or engaging in coping skills or self care?! The more you do it, the more powerful it gets! Gosh, did I mention how much I love how this game is impacting the world?!
2 – Exercise – So I have heard that you can catch “eggs” but only when you are walking (moving slower the 12 MPH), what a great way to get our exercise for the day! One of my clients even shared that she had walked 5 miles in one day, all while playing Pokemon Go.
3 – Game Strategy – I am so blessed to learn so much from my clients. As they share their experiences, I was blown away at how this entertaining game, in fact, it helps them practice concepts and skills we have been working on in therapy! One of my teen clients was a such a sweetheart and allowed me to catch my first pokemon. She was able to clearly and concisely explain to me the best strategy to catch that particular pokemon. She let me know that timing plays a big part of catching a pokemon and that I should Stop, Wait and Aim for the right time. As she walked me through the steps, I couldn’t help but smile. “Stop and Think” is one concept I teach often, by telling ourselves to “stop and think” we are able to decrease impulsivity, think through the situation and use rational thinking to determine what the most effective way to solve this problem (i.e. catching a high level pokemon, of course!).
4 – Conversation starters – I am not sure how many times a week, I typically ask, "how has your week been?" or "what's new with you?" Most of the times, I get the typical "good," "same ole," "nothing new." But recently, I have asked shifted the conversation starters to... “So…tell me about your favorite pokemon,” or “How many have you caught this week?” or “Who’s the most powerful pokemon that you have?” I try my best to be “up to date” and “cool” especially with my tween/teen clients. It is not always easy to start a conversation with a teen who’s parents are “forcing” them to come to therapy or an extremely anxious child. But talk about a game changer! A simple nonchalant question about an app and BAM! There is a take off! I mean, um, excuse me, where is my client, what did you do with him/her?
5 – Lack of Aggression – While you can “battle” other players, there is no visual blood, guts, guns/knives, etc. This game is appropriate for all ages and a game that can be enjoyed by both parents and kids. Which leads me to my next point…
6 - Builds relationships - Imagine that, dad and son walking together the park to catch Pokemon rather then hunkering down to play the newest Call of Duty. I can't tell you how many of my clients who are typically introverted or socially anxious surprised the heck out of me. They have told me how this game has helped them to meet people! Whether it's bonding over battling at a gym or getting tips from each other, each interaction they have with someone who wasn't in their life before somehow enhances their life now. WOW!
7 – Confidence Builder – Whether its because you just upped a character, caught a difficult pokemon or were able to answer a question from a stranger. I have witnessed my client’s confidence levels sky rocket! A huge component of building someone’s self confidence is through consistent positive reinforcement for a desirable behavior. When you get out and start walking, you are bound to find a few Pokemon and guaranteed (as you have collected enough poke balls, way to be proactive and prepared) to catch a few if not all. The more you catch, the more powerful your Pokemon become, the more you get addicted and want to play more!
1 - The token highly talked about “accidents.” Note of caution : WATCH WHERE YOU WALK, DO NOT WALK OFF A CLIFF, OR WALK INTO A HIGHWAY!!!! Duh…
2 – Don’t play while driving…Duh!
3 – Camera and privacy settings – There have been some negative comments about how this game creates safety issues as kids are taking pictures with the characters can show strangers where a child is. Simple solution, dis-enable the camera from the game…Tada!
In conclusion, everyone has the freedom of choice…to play Pokemon Go or not play Pokemon Go ...and I am in full support of a non-violent game, that when played safely, it gets people out of their houses, meeting new people, exercising and it doesn’t hurt that it promotes practicing of therapeutic skills! Go for it! #gottacatchemall